QP: Anecdotes concerning clarity

While Justin Trudeau remained in China on business, Andrew Scheer was in Surrey to help with the ongoing by-election there. That left Lisa Raitt to once again lead off, noted that it was a month away from implementation to the private corporation tax changes, and decried that there was too much uncertainty. Dominic LeBlanc was also leading for the government for a second day in a row, noting that they were clear in their promises, and that it was asking those very wealthy to pay a little more. Raitt raised the case of a couple who own a small business in her riding, and how they were uncertain about what the changes would mean. LeBlanc reminded her that the government can’t reveal budgetary measures in advance of a budget. Raitt tried a third time, getting warned for mentioning Morneau’s absence, but she nevertheless managed to demand his resignation. LeBlanc said that small business taxes were being lowered, and any further changes were still being considered as a result of the consultations they engaged in. Alain Rayes took over to ask the same question about the uncertainty in French, and LeBlanc dutifully repeated his points about lower taxes and forthcoming details. Rayes took some swipes at Morneau and demanded his resignation, and LeBlanc assured him that the minister was doing an extraordinary job, noting the decade-low unemployment numbers. Guy Caron was up next for the NDP, concern trolling over the confusion on trade talks with China, to which Patty Hajdu praised the government’s trade agenda. Caron wanted to know what human rights discussions were being had, to which Mélanie Joly stood up to assure him that they were having frank discussions that included human rights. Tracey Ramsey repeated Caron’s questions in English, some of the phrasing verbatim, which Hajdu reiterated her previous decision. Ramsey dug deeper, raising steel dumping, but Hajdu stuck to praise points.

Round two, and Gérard Deltell and Candice Bergen returned to the issue of Morneau’s shares (Lightbound: He disclosed everything but what are you getting at), and Pierre Poilievre accused Morneau of maximizing the taxes on small businesses while he tried to minimize his own, before demanding clarity on the new rules (Lightbound: We are reviewing submissions and will come out with new information soon). Cheryl Hardcastle and Pierre-Luc Dusseault demanded action on the CRA memo around tax credits for diabetics (Lebouthillier: The criteria have not changed, but we are bringing back the consultative committee). Karen Vecchio raised the allegations that Kent Hehr belittle thalidomide survivors (Hehr: Some of my comments were misconstrued, and when I heard that, I reached out to apologize), Luc Berthold reiterated the question on diabetics and their tax credits (Lebouthillier: Same answer), and Pat Kelly asked about the funds “identified” from tax evasion (Lebouthillier: We have recovery processes that are very effective). Irene Mathyssen asked about the court decision around disabled veterans (O’Regan: We will be announcing the pension-for-life option before the House rises), and Matthew Dubé asked about Canadians being detained at the border arbitrarily (Goodale: They can take their chances over the border, or they can have Charter protections under pre-clearance).

Round three saw questions on the CRA memo on diabetics, the Phoenix pay system, the veterans lawsuit by way of a dig at Omar Khadr, that Bell plan to block pirating website (Lametti: We support Net Neutrality), a US fish farm escape infecting BC fish, help for Yazidis in Iraq and war crimes prosecutions (Goodale: This was the topic of a G7 ministers meeting a couple of weeks ago, and we agreed to pursue battlefield evidence in pursuit of justice), and navy resupply ships.

Overall, I have to say that I was surprised that the Kent Hehr issue didn’t lead QP, given that it was some pretty easy points to score, but no, Lisa Raitt was invested in keeping the heat on Morneau with respect to the upcoming tax changes. True to form, Raitt couched her questions in anecdotes about real people, and the fear and confusion they feel, but I was left with nagging doubts as to the veracity of this concern. Call me sceptical. Not surprisingly as well, the ongoing questions about the share sales continued to feel even more tired, but what can you do when there is no substance to the allegations being made. Meanwhile, I was not too surprised that the quality of Diane Lebouthillier’s responses didn’t really improve today, but that is possibly subject to change as the days pass. That is how this government rolls. As for the attempt to wedge concerns about the Omar Khadr settlement into questions about veterans benefits, it was a cheap shot, and I really wish that they would do better, but sadly, ramping up how disingenuous you can make a question is a real sport in this parliament.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Mona Fortier for a stylish black leather jacket with a black top and slacks, and to Maxime Bernier for a tailored dark grey suit with a crisp white shirt and pocket square and dark blue tie. Style citations go out to Darshan Kang for a brown plaid-like jacket with grey slacks, a pink shirt, pink and blue tie and a red turban, and to Stephanie Kusie for a short-sleeved dress with light and dark blue, red and black horizontal stripes.